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Syrian Opposition Leader Rejects Annan's Call For Dialogue

Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun attends a news conference in Paris on March 1.
Thibault Camus
Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun attends a news conference in Paris on March 1.

The leader of Syria's main opposition group has some harsh words for Kofi Annan, who was appointed by the U.N. to be its envoy to Syria.

In an interview with the Associated Press Burhan Ghalioun said Annan's comments so far have been "disappointing."

Ghalioun was reacting to comments made by Annan in Cairo, yesterday. The former U.N. secretary-general urged the opposition to dialogue with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and said "further militarizations (of the opposition) would make the situation worse."

"These kind of comments are disappointing and do not give a lot of hope for people in Syria being massacred every day," Ghalioun said. "My fear is that, like other international envoys before him, the aim is to waste a month or two of pointless mediation efforts."

The AP spoke to another activist, who had harsher words:

"'It seems he lives on Mars,' said Mohammed Saeed, an activist in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

"'Between us and Bashar Assad are the bodies of 5,000 martyrs. We can't hear each other even if we wanted to,' he said. 'What dialogue are they talking about?'"

Reuters reports that 54 people were killed today in Syria. Annan is set to arrive in Damascus on Saturday. Reuters also reports that Annan will meet with Assad during his visit.

Reuters pins that report on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who also said Annan is set to meet with the Syrian opposition.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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